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22 December 2002, 11:36 am
Fleri Soler (MLT) Clinches Overall Title
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Euromed Malta Championships
St Pauls Bay

Matthew Fleri Soler last night was exceptionally exuberant having won the overall trophy of the Third Euromed Championship.

Last year he placed third behind two Swedes, one of whom, this year ended up in fourth position overall. Yet it was a sad moment for Benjamin Borg who had been leading at the end of Day 3 and slipped a place into second following a hard fought battle with the Swedes for 11 tough races.

This Third Euromed Malta Championship was organised by the Malta Young Sailors Club (MYSC) off the shore at St. Paul's Bay. Malta, Sweden, Ireland and the UAE took part with a total of 49 sailors on the start line on Optimists or Lasers.

Malta's top two young Optimist sailors held off a strong offensive from the top two Swedish sailors, Lisa Ericson (third) and Rebecka Harding (fourth). This was an ongoing tussle from race 1 and the competitiveness of their sailing was evident today as these top four youngsters practically always took the first four places of today's three races.

The Maltese boys' feat is even more of an achievement when one considers that Sweden's Harding is herself a top European Optimist sailor and has already twice won the Nordic Championships. Both Fleri Soler and Borg said after the races that they had prepared well for the Euromed and are hoping to continue racing well. Furthermore, Fleri Soler said "I hope to be chosen for Malta's Optimist team for the Small Nations Games". On the other hand, Borg is working hard to retain the National title he currently holds despite today's slight setback. "I've set my mind to it and decided to wake up," he said.

In fifth place was Christoph Podesta followed immediately by Karl Cremona, Simon Psaila and Theodor Bonnier (Sweden).

Cremona also triumphed in the young Cadet class, followed by Sean Borg in second place and William Camilleri immediately behind him. The youngest sailor award went to Sarah Manduca, aged eight while the UAE's Frederic Jacobs aged nine was the youngest boy participating.

In the Laser Standard class, John Tabone continued to register top placings in his races again today to consolidate his number one position in this class. Neil Borg, who was always close behind him, registered good positions to finish second with Adrian Gauci Borda in third place.

In the Laser Radial class, it was Peter Valentino who continued to dominate by winning all his races yet again. In fact he placed first in all the races he competed in. At the end of day the positions still saw Valentino ahead with Alfred Fenech second and Paul Debono ahead of Aaron Podesta, Zak Borg, Andrew Selvagi and Simon Aquilina.

The national team leaders of Sweden, Ireland and the UAE commented later that they were extremely impressed with the Maltese organisation of the Euromed and the sailing conditions experienced.

The Swedish and Irish team coaches also agreed that this competition offered good regatta training for their youngsters since they couldn't normally train on the open sea at this time of the year. For the UAE team this was a good warm up trial for their sailors since the Dubai championships are held in January (the current overall winner's title is, incidentally, held by Matthew Fleri Soler).

Malta Young Sailors' Club Commodore, John Ripard Jr, said he was obvioiusly extremely satisfied with the results that the Maltese sailors had achieved this year. He added that the success of the previous editions of these Euromed championships have seen it grow further by opening up the racing classes. Originally a championship solely for Optimists through which the young sailors can learn about sail-racing from a very tender age, the Euromed is now being opened up to the Laser Standard and Radial classes as well since some of the more successful local youngsters have now graduated to this Olympic class of racing sailor. This move is expected to also attract a number of international Laser sailors to participate since this is the class that Malta races in at the Small Nations and Olympics."Interest has already been shown by the UAE to send a strong team of Laser sailors next year," he said.

John Portelli/ISAF News Editor
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